Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius...

Today was the last day and I am feeling a little bereft!

Back in January I started a journey with Larry Warner's interpretation of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, Journey with Jesus and pretty much everyday has represented a challenge and has had me facing myself and God in new ways. Naively thinking I would have it finished while away at the International College for Officers the journey has only just come to an end, eight months later. Although the reality is that the journey hasn't ended at all as I feel the new rhythm that has been the consequence of the exercises' prodding and probing!

This book was totally right for me and totally the right time! So I've decided to start again! This time spending more time on the 'prayers of examen' that are an integral part of relaxing into the 'believing, being and becoming' that underpins both Larry Warner's ethos and the exercises.

So twice a day this week the questions are:

When and how did I experience God's love for me today?

How did my awareness of God's love for me affect the way I interacted with others, my circumstances and myself today?

So here we go - the journey continues!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Nouwen on spiritual dryness...

"Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life.  We feel no desire to pray, don't experience God's presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.   


Then it is important to realise that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts.  It is a great grace to be able to experience God's presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don't, it does not mean that God is absent.  It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness.  It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God" 

Henri Nouwen

Richard Rohr points out that 'Early-stage religion is largely driven by ego needs: the need to be right, the need to feel morally superior, the need to be safe, and the need to project a positive image to others. At that point, religion has little to do with any real search for God; it is almost entirely a search for oneself'.

Seems to me that there is a connection there somewhere?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Voluntary and Joyous simplicity #2

Here Rohr is saying be careful....!

Really could have used this material in a paper I recently presented with Andrew Grinnell and Bev McCombe .... Oh well ... Guess we were on the right tracks!

"Once we saw the clerical state as a place of advancement instead of downward mobility, once ordination was not a form of initiation but a continuation of patriarchal patterns, the authentic preaching of the Gospel became the exception rather than the norm—whether Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant. The first human “demon” that normally needs to be exposed is the human addiction to power, prestige, and possessions. These tend to pollute everything."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

@abcjustin competing Pay Day Loans out of existence...

In 1891 The Salvation Army opened its safer and fairer match factory in East London and put an end to  less equitable and unsafe production in an industry that was destroying lives. It competed with the match making industry and won, safe match production became the norm. Exploitative practices exposed and ended. 

I like the idea of competing wrong out of existence that ABC Justin Welby communicates applying the same match factory principles to the payday loan industry. 

“I’ve met the head of Wonga and we had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly ‘we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.’" Archbishop of Canterbury

I am really interested to see how this develops as one look down Sutton high street says we have a huge issue developing. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Voluntary and joyous simplicity #1

Richard Rohr makes an interesting point about simplicity ...

"Shortly before he died, Lenin is supposed to have said that if the Russian revolution were to take place over again, he would have asked for ten Francises of Assisi rather than more Bolsheviks. He eventually realized that something imposed by domination and violence from above only creates the same mirrored response from below. It is just a matter of time. He realized that the only communism that would ever be helpful to the world was the voluntary and joyous simplicity of a Francis of Assisi. "

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bridging the Gap Between People...

A bit of Nouwen on what it is to be a neighbour....


"To become neighbours is to bridge the gap between people.  As long as there is distance between us and we cannot look in each other's eyes, all sorts of false ideas and images arise.  We give them names, make jokes about them, cover them with our prejudices, and avoid direct contact.  We think of them as enemies.  We forget that they love as we love, care for their children as we care for ours, become sick and die as we do.  We forget that they are our brothers and sisters and treat them as objects that can be destroyed at will.


Only when we have the courage to cross the street and look in one another's eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family"

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A difference in emphasis...

An interesting thought from Richard Rohr today worth a mull!

"...Jesus tended to emphasize very different things than present organized Christianity tends to emphasize. Present organized Christianity (in all denominations) tends to be preoccupied with things that Jesus never talked about ever, and sometimes even disagreed with..."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Enslaved and shackled...

Larry Warner has written a book that I have been helpfully journeying with all year - 'Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius'. I'm also finding his website b-ing.org helpful. His monthly email particularly is worth receiving. Here is part of this months...

"We live in a world that runs at high speed. We live lives crammed with activities, distractions. We crave the rush, the newest, the fastest, the sleekest. We are producers, social climbers, accumulators, prestige hounds, experience seekers, adrenaline junkies. We are enslaved by and shackled to busyness, whether at work or play, believing it to be a gateway to all we need to feel significant, valued, even loved. And our culture, and sadly even the Church, seems to affirm this lie, applauding us for the frenetic pace and overloaded schedules. However, this hectic living does not bring health, healing or wholeness to our souls, but violence, robbing us of the ability to experience God in the now of our lives. For when we live this way we are not present to the present or the Presence, but instead we are continually transitioning from one kind of doing to another kind of doing. It is this e-v-i-l pace (evil = live spelled backwards; so as I use evil here I am referring to living life in a way that is the opposite of the life God created us to l-i-v-e) that severely hinders our experiencing God and that which God has provided for us through the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. "

Friday, July 05, 2013

All in a day...

Funny old day...

Hall full of friends from London Borough of Sutton ... friends from the Sutton Volunteer Centre... packed Coffee House ... Sermon prep ... Blocked toilets ... food bank... in-touch cafe ... Unblocking unsuccessful  ... Plumber just takes a latte in payment .... Free bike service from Halford's courtesy of O2 ... Now up to the Royal Opera House's Linbury theatre ... Later picking Bethan up from a party!

The misery of April 1: Susie

Everyone seemed to know Susie. Her energy drive for building community would put most churches to shame; the vanguard of transformation in so many ways, the bastion of local justice, standing up and against all things unfair in this part of SM1. In the few months I knew her, I saw nothing but investment into others around her, no doubt about it - a pillar of this community beyond it's cliché.

Well Susie is no longer here. She went very quickly. She has moved on, taking her young family away from the support structures and friends they knew. Now in a different but unfamiliar part of SW London, all thanks to her misfortune to have, in old money, a boxroom, deemed now a bedroom. So unable to withstand the 14% cut to her housing benefit, Susie has gone. 

Watching BBC's QuestionTime last night made me wonder how many of the Susie's of this world while shoehorning their families into new communities and schools really feel that they are all in it together?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Appreciative inquiry...

Got to say that discovering Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations has been good for me. Here is some classic Rohr.

"The deep intuitions of most church doctrines are invariably profound and correct, but they are still expressed in mechanical and literal language that everybody adores, stumbles over, denies, or fights. Hold on for a while until you get to the real meaning, which is far more than the literal meaning! That allows you to creatively both understand and critique things—without becoming oppositional, hateful, arrogant, and bitter yourself. Some call this 'appreciative inquiry'"

Holding on for a while is difficult but nevertheless well worth it. 

Borrowing from Walter Wink I was always keen to teach about the importance of 'withiness'. It just helps when engaging with an ancient text, knowing that beyond the ancient worldview there is a connective withiness that's lives on. But it also seems important to exercise 'appreciative inquiry' with each other, perhaps a key to living out Shalom?